Intel launches unrivalled Optane Series SSD, including 3D Xpoint

Mar 21, 2017, 00:32
Intel launches unrivalled Optane Series SSD, including 3D Xpoint

Controversial because of the somewhat circuitous road that Intel and partner Micron traversed since July 2015. The new 3D XPoint memory device - the Intel Optane SSD P4800X - might not be available in any commercial products this year, at least not the kind that regular users would buy.

Let's look at that more closely.

First products based on 3D Xpoint were originally expected in 2016 but Intel had run into problems during manufacturing. In addition, data centers can now also deploy bigger and more affordable datasets to gain new insights from large memory pools. Intel said it expects the cost structure to be closer to that of NAND than of DRAM. Add in the crowded NAND marketplace and how hard it is for vendors to be profitably competitive, and you can see why alternatives would be attractive. This allows a system to address far more memory than it is architected to support, with only slightly higher latency.

So what does Intel's new solution offer?

The solid state drive provides industry leading capabilities such as high throughput, low latency, high endurance and a high quality of service. Even so, the performance numbers Intel shared were notable and even startling.

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Intel said its Optane SSDs combine emerging Xpoint memory media with its memory controller as well as proprietary interface hardware and software. The performance of the said memory product is described to be better than NAND Flash. This increases scale per server and also accelerate applications. This solution transparently integrates the drive into the memory subsystem and presents the SSD as DRAM to the OS and applications. Eventually. 1.5TB SSDs will also hit the market.

If you happen to be part of Intel's early ship program, the Optane SSD DC 4800X Series is now available to you, so you can start upgrading your data centers.

So what's the key takeaway here?

The Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X with Intel Memory Drive Technology increases the size of memory pools, or allows a portion of the DRAM to be displaced. It often refers to Optane as "a storage solution that behaves like system memory". Alibaba Group will use Optane 3D XPoint drives for fast internet searches, and Harvard University will use it for cloud computing.

Could anything derail the company's plans or ambitions?